Lincoln Journal Star: Quartet didn’t need name to gain kudos

March 13, 2010

It was the no-name ensemble Friday night for the Lincoln Friends of Chamber Music series.

But the noted musicians in the group at the Abbott Auditorium in the Sheldon Museum of Art on Friday didn’t need one.

Matt Haimovitz, Andy Simionescu, Nokuthula Ngwenyama and Elizabeth Suh-Lane are all acclaimed string players.

The varied playbill included the Beethoven “String Trio in G Major,” Maurice Ravel’s treacherous “Duo for Violin and Cello,” the Jean Francaix “Trio for Violin, Viola and Cello” and, finally, Beethoven’s “Serioso” Quartet in F Minor, opus 95.

It took about half the first movement of the Beethoven trio for Haimovitz, Simionescu and Ngwenyama to connect together. Once the mood jelled, the music was excellent.

Haimovitz bowed a delectable central melody in the second movement, full of his own personal input, flawless, wonderful.

Matt Haimovitz [credit: Stephanie Mackinnon]

Matt Haimovitz [credit: Stephanie Mackinnon]

Haimovitz and Simionescu took on the Ravel “Duo” to demonstrate how important the melody lines are. Well-structured textures were hushed a bit to allow for the melodies to appear in the transparent score.It worked well, although several patrons told me they just don’t understand Ravel’s approach to harmony. Nonetheless, it was good to hear this seldom-performed work.

Francaix’ piece was a perfect antithesis for Ravel. The piece reminds one of slapstick silent movie music or a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Its apparent simplicity belies the difficult score. Ngwenyama was added in the mix for this fun work. Smiles on musicians’ faces told the crowd the players were having fun with it.

Suh-Lane came to the stage, joining the ensemble for the well-known “Serioso” Quartet. Excellent ensemble communications pervaded the first two movements, producing a tight-knit ensemble.

Those communications were essential in the last movement as well, and the foursome didn’t let up. A masterful conclusion brought a good end and strong patron applause for a well-played concert.

By John Cutler

View article at Lincoln Journal Star

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